Apple Watch might help detect COVID-19 prior to symptoms and testing

By Maaz Perwez
Apple Watch

A new study came up by a CBS News report that claims that smartwatches such as the Apple Watch can help detect COVID-19 even before the symptoms or a positive test. He studies, separately undertaken by Mount Sinai Health System in New York and Stanford University in California, are guessing that the Apple Watch can help play a vital role in the diagnosis of communicable diseases and it might help in stopping any other pandemics that can happen due to some disease like COIVD-19.

he research performed by Mount Sinai found that the Apple Watch is able to detect “subtle changes in an individual’s heartbeat” up to seven days before the onset of COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test. According to a study that took place between April 29 and September 29, where a group of 300 health care workers wore Apple Watch and have analyzed that the change in heart rate or the variation in time between the heartbeats, can be sensed seven days before using the Apple Watch.

This is a commonly-used measure of how well a person’s immune system is working, the report explains.

“Our goal was to use tools to identify infections at time of infection or before people knew they were sick,” said Rob Hirten, assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and author of the Warrior Watch study.

“We already knew that heart rate variability markers change as inflammation develops in the body, and Covid is an incredibly inflammatory event,” Hirten told CBS MoneyWatch. “It allows us to predict that people are infected before they know it.”

“Right now, we rely on people saying they’re sick and not feeling well, but wearing an Apple Watch doesn’t require any active user input and can identify people who might be asymptomatic. It’s a way to better control infectious diseases,” Hirten said.

On the other hand, a separate study from Stanford, who’s experiment resulted that the activity trackers from Garmin, Fitbit and Apple can track the change in heart rate up to nine and a half days before.

The researchers were able to identify nearly two-thirds of COVID-19 cases four to seven days before symptoms, the study says.

The team also has created an alarm system that alerts wearers that their heart rate has been elevated for a sustained period of time.

“We set the alarm with a certain sensitivity so it will go off every two months or so,” said Stanford University Professor Michael Snyder, who led the study. “Regular fluctuations won’t trigger the alarm — only significant, sustained changes will.”

“It’s a big deal because it’s alerting people not to go out and meet people,” he added. When Snyder’s alarm recently went off, for instance, he cancelled an in-person meeting in case he might be infectious.

Disclaimer, Apple didn’t fund or participate in either of the studies or experiments, unlike a few other brands that voluntarily take part in experimenting with things and studies.


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